What Americans think of the US flag in 2021

Jamie BallardData Journalist
March 31, 2021, 4:30 PM GMT+0

Ever since Congress moved to establish an official flag for the United States in 1777, people have had strong feelings about the stars and stripes.

A recent survey conducted by YouGov in partnership with NBCLX finds that while most Americans are proud of the US flag, minorities and younger Americans tend to hold the flag in less esteem than older white Americans do.

About seven in 10 (72%) Americans say the American flag makes them feel proud. Americans under 35 (56%) are less likely than those who are 35-to-54 years old (71%) or 55 and older (67%) to say the flag makes them feel proud.

There are also differences when it comes to race: most white Americans (79%) say the flag makes them feel proud, while fewer Hispanic Americans (67%) and Black Americans (59%) feel the same way.

Similarly, Americans who are white are more likely than Black and Hispanic Americans to say they feel comfortable walking through a neighborhood with a lot of American flags displayed. While 56% of white people say they are very comfortable with this, fewer Hispanic people (39%) and Black people (26%) feel as comfortable doing so.

Among Black Americans, 17% say they feel somewhat or very uncomfortable walking through a neighborhood with a notable number of US flags. Another 31% say doing so doesn’t make them feel especially comfortable or uncomfortable.

What words do Americans use to describe people who fly the US flag?

When asked which terms they would use to describe people who display an American flag on their home or vehicle, the most common responses were patriotic (62%), proud (53%), and normal (38%). Far fewer chose the words obnoxious (10%), racist (7%), or ignorant (6%).

Republicans are considerably more likely than Democrats to associate the American flag with the adjectives patriotic (77% vs 54%), proud (67% vs 46%), and normal (49% vs 32%).

Similarly, white Americans (67%) are 14 points more likely than Black and Hispanic Americans (both 53%) to say would use the term patriotic to describe people who display the flag.

Additionally, 12% of Black Americans say they would use the word racist to describe people who display the flag on their home or vehicle. Among Hispanic Americans, 8% choose this word; among white Americans, 5% do.

Do Americans associate the flag with one political party over another?

YouGov/NBCLX’s poll finds that 31% of US adults associate the American flag more with Republicans, while fewer (18%) associate it with Democrats. However, the most common response is that it isn’t affiliated more with one party over the other, at 34%.

Some flags, however, are associated more with one party versus the other. The BLM flag is associated more with Democrats (64%) than Republicans (3%), as is the LGBTQ flag (52% vs 3%).

About half of Americans associate the Confederate flag with Republicans (48%). A similar number also associate the Gadsden flag (featuring a snake and the slogan “don’t tread on me”) with Republicans at 46%.

For the most part, Democrats and Republicans are in agreement about which flags are associated with which parties. The exceptions are the American flag and the Confederate flag.

While 68% of Democrats associate the Confederate flag with Republicans, Republicans themselves don’t overwhelmingly agree (32%). Another 27% of Republicans say the Confederate flag isn’t associated with either party, which is a view only 10% of Democrats agree with.

In NBCLX’s segment using this data, they interviewed Americans in two cities about their views on the American flag. You can watch the full segment here.

Related: What the Confederate flag means in America today

See full results here.

Methodology: Total sample size was 1,227 US adults 18+. Fieldwork was undertaken between February 17 – 18, 2021. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all US adults.

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